Thousands of residents of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and members of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) are marching towards Islamabad and have announced they will camp at D-Chowk if the government does not take immediate steps to merge Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The JI's long-march, which started from Peshawar's Bab-i-Khyber, is aimed at exerting pressure on the federal government to revoke the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) and merge Fata with KP before the 2018 general elections.
The caravan was en route to the capital on Monday night.
The protesters have announced a sit-in at Faizabad on Tuesday followed by another sit-in at D-Chowk to press for their demands.
Meanwhile, the opposition in the National Assembly staged a walkout from the Monday session after they discovered that the Fata Reforms Bill — which was initially included in the agenda for the day — had been removed from the revised agenda.
Subsequently, a large number of Fata residents protested vocally outside Parliament House. The protesters demanded the merger of Fata with KP.
PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressed the protesters and told them that the bill had to be tabled before the assembly as per the copy of the agenda lawmakers received earlier, but "it was missing from the copy of the NA's agenda we received today".
The joint opposition has raised the question that why it was removed from the agenda, Qureshi said.
He said though the parliamentary affairs minister had claimed it was removed on technical grounds, "the government and the ministers had no solid reason to justify delaying the bill".
"The reason is that the government and the parliament have surrendered before two people," he alleged, referring to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Fazlur Rehaman and Mahmood Khan Achkzai of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party — who have both opposed the move.
The PTI leader questioned the seriousness of the government on the issue and said the PTI remained committed to the cause of Fata and will stand firmly by the people of the region.
The Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah told media that Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch had contacted him earlier saying the government was going to table the bill. "Baloch also sought my comments on the bill," the PPP leader said.
Shah termed the entire situation a mockery of parliament. The bill was removed from the agenda under pressure from some quarters, he said, adding that the opposition would announce its future course of action if the bill is not placed on the agenda by tomorrow (Tuesday).
On Sunday, PTI chief Imran Khan had said that his party wanted to see the merger of Fata with KP taking place before the 2018 general elections as a further delay in this regard could provide another opportunity to militants to “get hold of the area”.